On Friday, I posted a short story for Friday Fictioneers. I’d had difficulty cutting it down and although the short version proved popular, I wanted to write and post the longer one too. It’s still only 303 words, so hardly long, but a bit lengthy of the Fictioneers. Now I can’t decide which version I prefer.
You can see the original post, together with the link to Madison’s site and the picture which inspired it here. The longer version follows. As ever, i’d love to know what you think.
The Knight Returns
There was a time when the world was covered with forest, its paths cut by passing feet, its trees hideouts for outlaws and magicians. Back then, I was a bold knight on a gallant steed, and I ran through the trees staging epic battles and slaying dragons, rescuing my sister from whatever doom I had imagined for her that day.
Coming back to it, I find that the forest has grown small. It is bounded, now, by a housing estate on two sides, by an electricity substation to the North and a field of grazing sheep to the East. Back then, it stretched for miles, now I can walk across it in just a few minutes.
The world didn’t change, but I did. I left the forest, and discovered the adult world, where the paths are laid by machines and the trees have been replaced by concrete hideouts for a different kind of villain. The adult world is a dull one; our dragons more real but less vivid than those of childhood. I fight them every day, but I never slay one like I did as a boy. My victories are not the triumphs of fantasy, only the minor attainments of drudgery.
So I stand at the bottom of a forest path, a greying man in a grey suit with a greyer life. But I can hear a distant sound in the trees. I feel the stirrings of valour in my chest. And so, for this one day, I will draw my sword. For this one day, I will mount my steed and I will ride into the fray. Others may see a grown man playing like a child, but I will see the world as it used to be. And for this one day, I will be the bold knight once more.